A new poll suggests that Californians are likely to favor pension reforms that will likely be heading to the ballot in November 2016.
The poll, by the Public Policy Institute of California, found that while fewer Californians say that pension costs are a problem for the state, three-fourths of Republicans and two-thirds of Democrats favor changes such as moving from a defined-benefit to a defined-contribution system. Most also want the voters to have a say.
Other results from the poll, conducted among 1,708 adult residents of the state, confirm that California voters are more liberal than American voters elsewhere, with strong voters opposing state interference in abortion, backing stronger gun control laws, approving a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, and supporting the extension of temporary tax hikes on the wealthy. Californians are also optimistic about the state, but pessimistic about the nation.
The pension reform initiative, called the Voter Empowerment Act of 2016, is the project of a bipartisan group of leaders from across the state. They have faced an uphill battle from the state’s entrenched, union-backed Democrats, who have done their best to cast the measure in the worst possible light, warning voters that it could affect existing pensions, while proponents argue that it does not.
California’s unfunded pension liabilities are about $200 billion.